The Environmental Protection Agency says it's a complete coincidence that it fired a career staffer who signed off on a report contradicting claims that EPA head Scott Pruitt has received death threats on the same day Senate Democrats cited that assessment as evidence that the EPA had no reason to spend millions on increased security for Pruitt.
Until Tuesday, Mario Caraballo was the deputy associate administrator of EPA's Office of Homeland Security. A person with direct knowledge of Caraballo's dismissal told Politico that the EPA is saying he was let go because of a personnel issue stemming from a military job he held nearly 10 years ago that was resolved at the time and reviewed by the EPA years ago. His firing won't scare critics of Pruitt, one employee told Politico, adding, "this is going to embolden us to leak more to get these criminals out."
On Feb. 14, Caraballo signed off on a report that stated, "EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific, credible, direct threat to the EPA administrator." EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has claimed that Pruitt has received an "unprecedented" amount of death threats, and that's why he has a full-time, 20-person-strong security detail and must travel in first class. President Trump repeated that death-threats claim last week.
In a letter sent Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said they read the report, and the "threats" were actually "nonviolent protests" and "negative feedback" about Pruitt's policies and actions. The senators called for bipartisan oversight hearings at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a request denied by committee chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Catherine Garcia